The International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) introduced a new initiative called, "Look down before going up," at its press briefing at CONEXPO on Wednesday. This initiative aims to make aerial work platform users aware of the potential dangers from an inadequate assessment of ground conditions prior to use and failure to determine if there is sufficient ground support to handle the weight of the equipment in use.
Aerial work platforms (AWPs) are heavy machines whose weight can exert tremendous load-bearing pressure in concentrated areas on the ground. For comparison, a car tire exerts a ground-bearing pressure of about 35 pounds per square inch, whereas a typical 60-foot boom lift can generate a pressure in excess of 200 pounds per square inch. This can create a potential tip-over hazard if the ground cannot support the weight of the machine. A proper jobsite risk assessment needs to be performed prior to using any aerial device to determine if there are ground areas with uncompacted fill, below-ground voids including cellars, basements and sewer pipes, underground services, paved areas, areas where weather factors could have compromised soil conditions, and any other situation where ground stability could be compromised. Also, when operating lifts that are equipped with outriggers, spreader pads or outrigger pads should always be used to reduce concentrated ground load pressures.
"To make the workplace a safer place, it is the employer’s responsibility to perform jobsite risk assessments and provide their operators with proper warnings and method statements regarding any known site hazards," said Tony Groat, executive vice president of American Work Platform Training (AWPT), the North American subsidiary of IPAF. "Properly trained AWP operators must always perform daily workplace inspections, including a review of current ground conditions along with inspecting their equipment to make sure everything is in proper working order prior to using any aerial device. AWPs are a safe and effective means to place workers at height and knowing there is adequate ground support under them is essential to their stability and workers' safety.
View the award-winning "Spot the Mistake" video at the Publications/Film section of www.awpt.org. The video features a section on ground conditions and ground support.